While the developers of virtual reality are trying to make it realistic, and the manufacturers of gaming consoles convulsively come up with something to surprise users not to leave the arena, gamers are downloading hundreds of games on smartphones and watching live broadcasts of cyber-sports matches. The next step – the connection of portable gadgets, cloud and fog calculations, the game against artificial intelligence (or with him). “Hajtek has learned what technological trends are changing the gaming industry.
Competitions in Dota 2, League of Legends, World of Tanks have long ceased to be an entertainment for schoolchildren. According to the report of KPCB venture company, the number of cyber-athletes among millennials is approaching the number of those who prefer classical sports. Along with it, streaming is developing – game broadcasts become interactive, viewers not only watch players, but can also interfere with the game (for example, by voting).
The worlds where viewers are actually participants – these are the games of the future,” says Amir Shevat, vice president of development for Twitch’s largest streaming platform. – I think we’re reinventing streaming.
Cybersports and streaming are large advertising budgets (expected to exceed $1 billion by 2020) and large traffic. The abolition of “network neutrality” in the United States – the principle that providers must provide equal conditions to any content provider and cannot charge for individual traffic segments – will create conditions for unfair competition and corruption, said League of Legends analyst Shin Lee. Simply put, a game or stream from a major player who can pay the providers will be downloaded faster and less flawed than content from an independent developer.
According to the Sketchfab survey, gamers consider modern VR-games to be expensive and visually underdeveloped – but the developers are actively working on the variety of gameplay and quality of simulation. As early as 2018, Oculus Go (from Facebook), Vive Pro (HTC) and Mirage Solo helmets are expected to appear on the market with support for the Google Daydream platform (the platform uses WorldSense motion tracking technology, which allows gamers to move around in virtual space without connecting cables, external sensors, smartphones and PCs), which will be equipped with higher resolution screens, surround sound systems, and will be able to work without connecting to a computer or smartphone.
VR capsules with full immersion can be found in some entertainment centers. The egg-like capsule is equipped with virtual reality glasses, loudspeakers and simulators of various tactile sensations – from wind to sea residents passing by. To make the journey to the virtual reality as long and comfortable as possible, experts work on the player’s feeding system and built-in toilet.
According to Denis Dybsky, marketing director of Teslasuit, there is not much left to realize the dream of fantasists: to address all the senses, to work out in detail the imitation of walking, to get rid of wires and to achieve a realistic “feedback” from the virtual objects. Teslasuit tries to solve this problem by means of the built in climate control, system of transfer of tactile sensations and function of capture of movements. It can simulate heat, cold, touch, and work in avatar mode. Now the suit needs a powerful processor to work without delay, but it is expected that cloud computing will solve this problem.
Augmented reality is now more interesting to investors than gamers: the technology is available to a large number of consumers – not only on special devices (AR-glasses), but also on ordinary smartphones. For example, thanks to the AirMeasure app there is no need to look for a tape measure to measure anything, and the Head-Up Display, developed by BMW, allows you to display the route and information useful to the driver directly on the car’s windshield. The most striking example is Pokemon Go, which has been downloaded 70 million times in its first year of operation alone.
Games have clear and understandable rules that make them an ideal platform for experimentation with artificial intelligence, said Joseph Brown, Associate Professor at the University of Innopolis. Once the computer learns the basic rules, a person plays with it to teach him new moves – and then the AI, adapted to the actions of the player, encourages him to improve. According to Donald Kehoe, Professor of Technology at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the true purpose of AI in games is to imitate reasonable behavior and provide the player with a convincing, plausible problem that the player can solve.
Artificial Intelligence can also adapt game conditions (plot, tasks, game world design) to individual players – so, the game world of space simulator No Man’s Sky contains 18 quintiles of planets.
In 2017, the global mobile gaming market had a turnover of $40.6 billion (only $17.6 billion in 2013) – 42% of the total gaming market, up from PlayStation (31%) and PC (23%). More cross-platform games are emerging (they can be played from a variety of devices), and the presence of mobile phones in cybersports is growing. And the PokemonGo mentioned above is an example of how smartphones become augmented reality guides. The next step – the game on portable devices.
The consoles are still struggling
A few years ago, NVIDIA’s CEO said there was no future for the consoles, and players would be completely switched to the PC. It was supported by the chief operating officer of Electronic Arts, Peter Moore:
In the future, games will be available through streaming technology, so we won’t need hardware intermediaries. If you and I want to play cool game Battlefield 23 against each other, we’ll just enter the game from any monitor that we have at hand. Everything will be on the chip, not in the box.
However, console manufacturers are in no hurry to put a cross on their product. Developers of Sony PlayStation 5 managed to intrigue gamers with a device that will be compatible with VR technologies (both at the level of software and hardware) – this opportunity will be provided by the eight-core coprocessor APU with a graphics accelerator. The competitor of Sony can become a game console Yeti from Google, which simply “give” all the graphical calculations to the servers of the corporation.
Development is getting easier
As noted by online game producer Vyacheslav Utochkin, due to new solutions the threshold for entry into the gaming industry has become much lower: “There are many free engines, or with very loyal license conditions, various free software, ready-made assemblies and a number of other tools designed to greatly simplify the development process for small teams.
Professional education can be obtained at the Scream School of Computer Technologies, at the professional retraining program at the Higher School of Business Informatics of the National Research University Higher School of Economics. British Higher School of Design periodically holds open master classes on game-design, AR and VR technologies, and Contented company launched online courses on augmented reality for beginners.
Calculations are harder
The more complex and realistic the games are, the more powerful the processors are required to support them. The main trend here is cloud computing, which will soon become the backbone of the global IT infrastructure. The alternative to them is “peripheral computing” (edge computing; there is no established translation into Russian for this term yet) on IoT devices. Thomas Bitman, an analyst at Gartner, spoke about the fact that edge computing may soon replace clouds: “Today cloud computing is being devoured by corporate data centers… but there is a trend that will move workloads, data and business far away from the cloud. And the trend towards edge computing is even more important and significant than ever before – the trend towards cloud computing.
Side effects persist
American Derek Westerman set a world record by spending 25 hours and 2 minutes in virtual reality. The gamer was surrounded by a team of assistants who siphoned and fed him during the game. After 17 hours in VR space, Westerman felt bad; after 21 hours he lost his spatial orientation and his ability to speak with his own voice. The sensation of complete exhaustion had only passed on the second day after the experiment.
A detailed list of side effects from the use of virtual reality helmets was published by Samsung: among them are headaches, loss of consciousness, seizures, drowsiness, blurred or double vision or other visual anomalies. According to Alexander Lukichev, head of product development at DVR, the reasons are the difference between the scale of the real and virtual world, the sharp movements of virtual objects and the unusual distortion of space for the human eye. Professor of cognitive psychology at Leeds University Mark Mont-Williams notes that computer images are broadcast on a two-dimensional screen and the focus point is at the same distance – whereas in reality it is constantly changing as the eye moves from one object to another.
Game developers and VR immersion accessories also warn of the possibility of injury during the game. One of Reddit’s users told us how he fell asleep in a virtual reality helmet, and when he woke up, he didn’t immediately realize where he was, jumped into a scarecrow and crashed into a wall. There are cases when gamers stumble upon furniture or injure household members while diving into the virtual space – it is no coincidence that the instructions for VR-helmet recommend starting the game with the preparation of the space.